When Ellie Hoffman starts her 26.2-mile journey along the Boston Marathon next Monday, she'll be running with several people on her mind.
She'll be thinking about her Mom, who ran the Marathon 20 years earlier. She'll be thinking about Katie Hildreth, whose selfless actions during the 2017 Boston Marathon kept Hoffman safe. And she'll be thinking about Corey Griffin, whose name will be on her racing singlet and whose memory she will run for.
Hoffman is one of six runners on this year's Corey C. Griffin Foundation Boston Marathon team. She recently took time to talk about the Marathon's significance to her, her relationship with the Griffin family and what it means to run on the Corey C. Griffin Foundation team.
How would you describe what the Boston Marathon means to you and the City of Boston?
The marathon has meant a lot to me ever since I was a little girl. My Mom ran the 1999 Boston Marathon in memory of her mother, who had recently passed away from breast cancer. She raised a great deal of money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, which is where my Grandma was treated for many years. I was filled with so much pride watching my Mom cross the finish line and I can’t remember a time since then that I didn’t dream of following in her footsteps.
For the longest time, family and fundraising were what I thought of when I thought of the Boston Marathon. I finally got the chance in 2017 to run the Boston Marathon and was unfortunately affected by the heat and was unable to finish. I learned so much more about the Marathon from that experience. From Katie Hildreth, who is a friend and one of Corey's cousins, who stopped running to help me for over an hour, to the police officer who helped her get me to a medical tent, to the medical volunteers who tried to rehydrate me — they all taught me so much more about the Boston Marathon and the city of Boston. I felt so much support and learned that day that the Boston Marathon isn’t about finishing, it’s about everything in between — the tradition that it represents, the city and all of its people and the fundraising for causes bigger than ourselves.
Now the Boston Marathon to me is about all of that, and following in my Mom’s footsteps, of course!
How do you describe the mental challenge of running a marathon to someone who has never attempted it before?
It’s so hard to explain until you’ve felt the pain of every step in those last miles. You train for so many months with very little reward until you get to race day and the emotions just overwhelm you. It really is the mental side that keeps you going at the end and knowing that your training has prepared you enough and the thought of everyone on Boylston screaming for you at the finish.
As you approach the finish line this year, what do you think you'll be thinking about?
Just thinking of it makes me emotional. I’ll be thinking of my family and Corey and the Griffin family the most. My family has been so incredibly supportive through all of my training and I know they will be just as happy and proud as I am when I cross that finish line. I’m so honored to be running for Corey and the Griffins as well. It means the world to me to be able to raise money for the CCG Foundation and to wear the CG singlet and hat as I run on marathon day. I can’t think of a greater honor!
You said you want to run the marathon for people like Corey and Katie Hildreth. What do you think the general public can learn from people like them?
Corey was such a selfless person with such a magnetic personality. He got so much joy from making those around him happy. Katie is so much like Corey in so many ways. Katie had run the marathon in 2013 and was unable to finish because of the bombing. It was her year to finish in 2017, and she was just four miles from the finish line when she stopped to help me. She stayed with me in the medical tent for over an hour. She did end up finishing, but not before tracking down my family and making sure they knew where I was and that they were on their way to me. It was such a selfless act, and she didn’t even blink an eye. I think people can learn a lot from both Katie and Corey, but their selflessness is one of the most important qualities.
What's been your relationship with the Griffin family?
I’ve been lucky to know the Griffin family for the better part of my life. I met Casey in fifth grade on the lacrosse field, and she’s been one of my closest friends ever since. You can’t know just one of the Griffins, though – they open their arms to everyone and have been so wonderful to me since day one. Corey was the cool older brother that I think idolized Casey as much as Casey idolized him. He was very protective of Casey and all her friends, and he really watched out for all of us. I feel so fortunate to have known Corey and that I get to help keep his memory alive.
How would you describe the impact the Corey C. Griffin Foundation has had in the community?
I think it’s so incredible to see what the foundation has done in such a short amount of time. The way Corey’s Kids, who didn’t know Corey personally, talk about him says it all. The CCG Foundation and the Griffin family and all of Corey’s closest friends have done such an amazing job of honoring Corey’s memory by making sure his love of life, giving back and helping others is not forgotten.
Is there anything else you'd like to say to everyone who is supporting you and the other runners on the CCG team?
I can’t thank everyone that has supported me enough. I swear your strength grows with each donation and the support you feel from so many as you train for such a large feat. It has meant the world to me. I’m so excited to be out there on race day with the CCG team. We have such a great team that has been so supportive throughout training, so to get out on the course together is going to be so much fun!